Financial Planning, Retirement

Why Are So Many Americans Financially Stressed?

5/4/16 8:00 AM

iStock_000005970521_Small.jpgLast month we looked at a study from Bank of America Merrill Lynch which found that many working U.S. adults do not feel financially secure. New research from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) explored this same issue and helped shed some more light on why so many Americans lack confidence in their current financial situation. For example, 55 percent of surveyed employees said that not having enough emergency savings to cover a large, unexpected expense is one of their top financial concerns at the moment. A quarter of respondents are equally worried about not being able to meet their regular monthly bills, and 15 percent are also scared about falling behind on their debt payments. All of those statistics are at or matching the highest readings seen in the past five years that this annual survey has been conducted.

Employee respondents also reported that long-term financial issues, such as being able to retire on time (55 percent) and running out of money in retirement (45 percent), are among their top financial concerns right now. An alarming 47 percent of surveyed workers even said that they currently have less than $50,000 set aside for retirement, and 28 percent reported that they are saving less for retirement now than they did a year ago. When asked why, the most common excuses were having too many other expenses (32 percent) and bills that have gone up over the past twelve months (26 percent). Baby Boomers were found to be the most worried at the moment about old age financial security while Millennial employees appeared to generally be more concerned about near-term financial challenges. Overall, though, a majority of respondents from each age cohort predict that the next generation will be worse off financially.

When employees were asked what would help them achieve their long-term financial goals, the most popular responses were better job security, lower healthcare costs, and a rising stock market. Fifty-two percent of worker respondents said that they are stressed by their current financial situation, and 45 percent believe that their level of financial stress has increased over the last twelve months. Twenty-eight percent of surveyed employees said that their personal finances have distracted them while at work, and 46 percent of these same respondents said that each week they spend at least three hours or more in the office thinking about or dealing with issues related to their personal money troubles. Unsurprisingly, 17 percent of employees reported that financial worries have lowered their on-the-job productivity, and 8 percent said that they have even missed work as a result of their money problems.



Sources: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Post author: Charles Couch